Emylin waited quietly in the back room of the church. The heat in the room was almost unbearable. This one room, the old portion of the church, constructed of mud and wattle did well at holding the heat of the hot African sun. Those that sought him would soon arrive. In the room where he had started his ministry, he now offered his final prayer.
These people had become Emylin's own. The old preacher could think of no other way to give his people a chance. These past ten years his congregation had grown from fifteen to 5000. Apparently to the government of Sudan, a group of 5000 banded together looked too much like an army to allow them to continue. As the first shots rang in the nearby streets Emylin prayed for the 2500 residents who had refused to leave their homes.
Machine gun fire, from the street outside, echoed through thick mud walls of the room. The cries of a young boy for his mother followed could be heard from outside. The soldiers had arrived.
“Dear Lord, please let them make it. I know that you have great things in store for these people” Emylin said as he rose and entered the main hall of the massive brick church.
A single soldier searched the church. As Emylin entered the main hall the soldier’s attention turned to him.
“You are Emylin?” the soldier questioned.
“My boss is not pleased with you,” the soldier said.
“Your boss is a murderer,” Emylin retorted. “Why do you kill your own people for a murderer? May Christ forgive you young man.”
The remark earned the preacher a blow to the face. Searing pain shot through his entire head as his cheekbone broke under the butt of the soldier’s rifle. The world faded quickly as Emylin passed out.
Waking, he found himself bound to a pole. The scene that lay before him was gruesome. Bodies of men and women strewn about, the ground painted with smears of blood, smoke clouding the air, and the village in front of him seemingly all on fire at once. The cries of children from a street over could be heard; children that would be taken and forced to serve the army, or to make wives for the soldiers.
In his heart Emylin cried for the children who had survived the battle, these children whose reality had just yesterday been a difficult, but peaceful life. Peace would no longer be a part of their lives. Death would soon be the only thing these young minds learned.
“Where is your rebel army?” a old soldier asked, bring Emylin’s attention to the soldiers in front of him.
“I have no army,” Emylin replied. “May the Lord forgive you for what you have done.”
Confidence that he had chosen what was right suddenly coming back to him, his resolve renewed, he stood tall against the bindings. He had not stayed behind to weep for children, he had stayed to give those already gone a chance. The Holy Spirit moved within him and audible voice in his head this time.
You have done well my son stand with confidence as Christ did.
His remark about forgiveness earned Emylin a blow to the shoulder from the soldier’s machete. As blood poured from open wound, a smile came to his face. The soldier, taken aback by this man who stood smiling in the face of torture, hit him again.
For what seemed like an hour the soldiers tortured him. Trying to get him to tell them where the others had gone. Through cuts, gunshot, and beatings, Emylin stood preaching the name of Jesus to the young soldiers.
As the final blow was about to come from a young soldier, with a machete raised high above his head, in front of him, Emylin was given a vision. It was a vision of 6000 people crossing the border from Dafur into Chad, the army that pursued them still a mile behind. The old preacher’s sacrifice had bought them just enough time.
“Praise Jesus,” Emylin whispered as the machete broke through his skull. With those words the old preacher died.
The young man who killed him stood in amazement at this man. The man had stood confidently preaching the name of Jesus through all of the torture he had endured. Jesus would become a common name with the few hundred soldiers who had witnessed the old man’s death soon enough.
Although this story is fiction, it was inspired by a very real situation in our world today. Be sure to check out eyesondafur.org. Become part of stopping any more violence from erupting in Dafur.
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